Archive for September, 2007

Friday Night Date Place – Circles of Friends

Since this seems to be friendship week on the blog, I thought that I would continue the theme through this week’s Friday Night Date Place. Sometimes in learning to be a contented single it helps to have a circle of friends. Friendships can assuage some of our intimacy needs as well as take the edge off the constant boogeyman of singleness: loneliness.

I think I’ve mentioned before how I was once part of a singles group and how these groups can sometimes develop strange dynamics. The key was understanding the “politics” of them:
-those who make “friends” strictly as an opportunity to date those within the circle
-those who genuinely want friends
-those who just want folks to kill time with until they find someone and then they can disappear
-those who want an entertainment circle

To break the groups down even further, there are planners and there are those who wait for invites and not always do the two meet. I was a planner: I would get bored, decide to do something, and call some folks to join me. Oh, the crap I’d take if I didn’t always invite the right folks (the right folks defined as those who might hear of people getting together and them not getting the invite and then getting bent out of shape over it).

Of course the accusation of the group having “cliques” was bandied about. Not understanding that sometimes I want to hang out with other folks or even just my closest folks. [Just as there are good cliques and bad cliques, there are levels of friendships.] It got to the point where I felt made to feel guilty for not calling folks every time I took a crap. What was on display was the fear of being outside the clique or their friendship rejected or them not being accepted (in fact, the only way to get away complaint free literally was to make every “activity” open to everyone/call everyone – which sort of ruined opportunities for smaller groups to get to know and spend time with each other). A valid fear, since we all prone to believing lies about ourselves—that we’re not good enough, not likeable enough, not funny enough, too hard to be loved—not realizing that we all suffer from moments of these feelings.

One solution was to say “why don’t you plan something?” However, planning takes risk too. The same risk as any attempt to increase intimacy: what if you plan something and no one shows up? Then your attempt to reach out is met with a slap. Some people are simply relationally lazy/afraid: they expect everyone to come to them, to bend to their needs, call them (because their hands are obviously broke)and chase after them. It’s a safe position that minimizes their risks (but maximizes their need to complain when people aren’t cooperating). But, seriously, people aren’t always going to chase after you. [I’m not Captain Sensitivity on this point: I had a girlfriend who used to love making dramatic exits expecting me to follow after her. Dramatic stunts like that only made me reach for the remote control to see what was on television.]

The temptation is to say “put your big girl panties on” when folks complain or just say “screw it, I’m tired of being constantly tested and doubted. Yes, you’ve got me. I actually hate you. ” The natural question to ask then becomes why bother? Seriously, why make the effort to dance around the neurotic landmines of even worrying about folks who seem determined to look for cracks in relationships, communities, and fellowship? Well, because we’re called to love one another, to bear one another’s burdens, and to be the “stronger brother”. So you spend a lot of time balancing out various folks’ needs and insecurities while trying to maintain your own friendships. (But, as the “stronger brother”, you do that friend no favors by just bending around them. You are to push them also.)

Eventually I left that singles group in order to help plant the Dwelling Place. I knew the tenor of the relationships would change. It’s not that we were suddenly any less friends, but I would be out of the rhythm of their lives and I/they would have to work harder to maintain the relationships. Is all of this effort worth it? Well, a solid circle of friends is always worth it; being as considerate as possible, helping folks form friendships, and easing them through their bouts of doubts and insecurity helps form you into a better friend. Just understand that developing a community of friends requires careful care and feeding.

Intellectual Property

I’m eventually going to die.

Nothing exactly startling or revelatory, however, it is a reality we all must face. Actually, I’ve come to find out that it’s a fairly common fear among writers that once they sign a book deal or are about to see their first work in print, they become convinced that they won’t live to see their work in print.

Once we got all of the financial matters taken care of, that left what to do with my un/published work and started me thinking about what would happen to my work once I’m gone.

Continued on Blogging in Black.

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Moonlight – A Review

Since apparently only geeks stay home, the latest entry into the Friday night/genre death slot has arrived. Twenty years ago, creator Ron Koslow gave us that paranormal romance, Beauty and the Beast. Paired with Ghost Whisperer, Moonlight seems like a good fit. Not that it tries too hard, but Moonlight won’t be able to escape the Forever Knight (and, for that matter, Angel) comparisons.

Private investigator, Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin), was transformed into a vampire 60 years ago by his ex-wife, thus he remains the perfectly preserved thirty something do-gooder for hire. Playing web casting Lois Lane to his undead Superman is Beth (Sophia Myles), who shares a bond with him. Rounding out their little ensemble is his 400-year-old friend Josef (Jason Dohring), who is a part of some greater vampire conspiracy/network only interested in his selfish pursuits and keeping the reality of vampires a secret.

At some point they will hopefully re-think the voice over exposition. Not that the device works often (Desperate Housewives and Burnout being exceptions), but for the device to work, the narrating character needs to have something interesting to say or at least say it interestingly. In Moonlight’s case, the voice of the character lands somewhere between emo, Anne Rice-an and poor film noir, except devoid of humor and anything engaging. Acknowledging that a joke is bad (“being a vampire sucks”) doesn’t make it any better.

“When you live forever, the past always catches up to you.” –Mick

Moonlight has redefined vampire lore (albeit awkwardly, in a talk show format, pre-credits “interview”) so that there is very little religious overtone to the vampire mythology, except for the idea of blood leading to eternal life. However, it isn’t his vampire nature that is the spiritual lynchpin of the show, but rather his humanity. His choice in vocations and how he chooses to live his life is what is of interest.

“There is no time. There is no life. There is no death. It is a perfect world, seemingly everlasting, until we are ripped from the womb into daylight. When we are born, that paradise is lost and we spend the rest of our days trying to find out way back. Back to that perfect world.” –resident bad guy

The fallen state that we find ourselves in leads Mick to confess that “For the longest time I was like most people, looking out for myself.” He reaches a climax point in his life when he realizes that living his life for his own ends and purposes is a hollow pursuit which is why he begins living his life for others. It is his attempt at redemption. At the same time, “the thirst for blood is symbolic of a deeper hunger,” a desire to connect. He has a longing to connect not only to his lost humanity but to others and perhaps find himself.

In the twenty years since Beauty and the Beast, the mopey, melancholy hero (especially in vampire form) has been done to undeath. O’Loughlin doesn’t bring anything to the role beyond the ability to pose and we’re still waiting for the chemistry between him and Beth to take root. (Although, the whole “I’ve been watching you since you were a child” vibe is probably the creepiest thing about the show). Apparently the key to doing something new with vampires is to make them boring and unsexy. Brilliant!

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K-Ville – A Review

“Life After the Fall”

I long advocated a CSI: New Orleans when it was in the idea pile (before they settled on the “been there” setting of New York). My chief reasoning being that the cities, Las Vegas (original C.S.I.) and Miami, were as much a character as any other regular. With K-Ville, we finally have a series set in New Orleans, though it does its level best to squander the opportunity.

Basically your standard interracial buddy cop team, one partner being ex-Special Forces, the other half a nut job, you can’t help but think of something like Lethal Weapon crossed with Miami Vice. But because of the particular sentiment swirling around New Orleans, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, race and politics provide a vital undercurrent to the show … and the people an exploited one.

Anthony Anderson, still prone to screaming half of his lines, plays caring family man cop, Marlin Boulet. His former partner, Charlie Pratt (Derek Webster), burned out on the job during the Hurricane Katrina crisis. As the show opens, he is being assigned a new partner, Trevor Cobb (Cole Hauser). Once we get through the introductions and setting, we’re left with (sub-)standard procedural fare.

“I guess you’re human.” –Trevor

The show is not subtle about the state of New Orleans (and bounces along to an equally subtle soundtrack). Rich racial and spiritual implications abound in the show, but it is the treatment of the disenfranchised that buoys it. Few have ever considered Fox philanthropic, but the show does draw attention to the inconvenient reality of our poor. After tragedies, we want to move on quickly, ignoring the reality of more pressing economic priorities, that played a part in why the tourist areas were back up quick, slapping a shiny, happy face on the situation, while the poor areas were left in disarray, the casualties of trickle down help.

Ayana: Just look around … it’s not the same place and it’s never gonna be.
Marlin: It will be if we fight for it.

In a lot of ways, Hurricane Katrina represented their story taking a different turn, much like the idea of “the Fall”: the sin of Adam and Eve. Moving beyond a literal interpretation of the story, Adam’s sin represented humanity seeking its own way. Our pursuit of what we hope to create out of rebellion (the lie of independence)—attempting to write our own stories—all the while ignoring the grand story of which we’re a part. Relationships are broken and we’re left with conflict: man vs. man; man vs. God; man vs. self; man vs. Creation. One of the things that makes suffering so bad is the sense, the part of us that knows, that things aren’t as they’re supposed to be.

“If you get a second chance then you’re changing your life.” –Trevor


While some have said that Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment against our embrace of homosexuality and abortion, the hard reality is that if we’re going to be judged, it will be on how we treat, in Jesus’ words, “the least of these”. The poor. The disenfranchised. We are to be witnesses of hope and the first ones to protest this violent order of the way things are; we draw near to the suffering, continue to ask “why?”, and then act in compassion. Our lives become pursuits of putting things back together after bad things happen. In K-Ville we see most of the characters in search of redemption, from the ex-partner to the current one.

“Isn’t this a bit overboard?” –Trevor

K-Ville brings big gun battles set in the Big Easy, so it is a show completely dependent on its context, bringing little new to the table. I keep waiting for Anderson and Hauser to break out somehow rather than play within the ciphers they’ve been given as characters. The show has just enough promise to justify a couple more episodes to see if it will shake out its kinks and grow into the show it wants to be.

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Circle of Friends: Care and Feeding

You know what? Many of us have difficulty telling our friends how much they mean to us. In fact, we’re on the verge of taking them for granted, either by not calling them, seeing them, or otherwise spending time with them as often as we should. (And, yes, I’m especially talking to the “I ALWAYS call them first” folks, because friendship isn’t about keeping score.)

Granted, this was a lesson hard learned. I once had a case of “loving someone from afar”, you know the deal where you have feelings for someone but never quite muster up the testicular fortitude to say anything about it. A year later, she married someone other than me. When I asked her what drew her to him, she said that she was looking for was a guy who was just like me. So I vowed to never let anyone out of my life without letting them know how I felt about them.

Of course, now I’ve swung so completely in that direction that if I have extra time to kill (read: stuck in traffic), I play cell phone lottery. I’ll randomly punch through my address book and whoever I land on gets a phone call and “I love you” message. (Rules modified if I land on my work number).

It boils down to the fact that many of us are afraid to put ourselves “out there.” To risk possible rejection, to be vulnerable, to open ourselves up. Love, even love among friends, is a risky proposition, but one that is well worth it. We are wired for relationships and that includes cultivating our circle of friends. I also get that I risk losing my guy card by advocating something as radical as expressing how you feel, even if it’s to one of your boys.

So, never take your people for granted. Tell them how much they mean to you and have a random “I love you” day. Sure, they’ll make fun of you for it (believe me, they’ll make fun of you for it), but they’ll also appreciate it (on some level. I hope).

Facing Your Friends Part II

Speaking of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, they were recently written up with some complimentary things said about them. So after being welcomed into the family, I read with interest about the upcoming APEX – Halloween Grab-Bag Raffle:

You’ll find nothing but TREATS here, guaranteed! Here’s a chance to fill your pillowcase with all sorts of goodies, including rare items from some of the biggest names in the field. For only $1.00 per ticket. And, a percentage of all proceeds made will go to the National Center for Family Literacy!

One “ticket” will be selected as the winner for each item. So, the more “tickets” you buy, the greater your chances… Winners announced on Halloween at midnight . To bid on any of the fantastic items, just visit www.ApexDigest.com and simply put a “1” in the quantity field (for a charge of just $1). For a better chance at winning your item, just put in a “2” or a “3” (or a “20”) and your chances will increase accordingly! Good luck!

This is just some of what you’ll find to bid on:
* In-depth short story critiques offered by famed writers and editors.
* Copy edited original manuscript of Titan signed by Ben Bova.
* Signed HCs of Homebody, Magic Street or Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card.
* Signed MMPB of The Keeper by Sara Langan.
* Signed TPB French edition of The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum.
* Promotional Moral Orel photo or t-shirt signed by actress Carolyn Lawrence (voice of Orel).
* Signed copies of award winning writer M.M. Buckner’s: Hyperthought, Neurolink, and War Surf.
* Original hand-written poem framed with signed photo of Grim Trixter author Brandy Schwan.
* Signed reader’s copies of Mary Doria Russell’s new novel Dreamers of the Day.
* Awesome stuff from Aradani Studios (Paul and Michael Bielaczyc).
* Signed, HC limited edition copy of Dreadful Skin by Cherie Priest.
* Giant gift box from Horrorview.com. including videos, shirts, etc.
* Signed copies of Steven Savile’s Warhammer trilogy: Retribution, Dominion, and Inheritance .
* Three signed, sexy PR photos of author Angeline Hawkes-Fulbright.
* HC of DUNE: The Machine Crusade or Ignition signed by co-author Kevin J. Anderson.
* Signed, HC of Metal Swarm by author Kevin J. Anderson. This is the UK edition.
* Signed, MMPB of The Freakshow by Bryan Smith.
* Signed Tales of… pack by Geoffrey Girard: Atlantic Pirates, Jersey Devil, and Eastern Indians.
* One year subscription to Shimmer Magazine
* Signed & Limited Edition of I Sing the Body Electric! by Ray Bradbury (retail value of $150).
* Signed copies of The Magic Goblet and The Magic Ring edited by Dr. Amy H Sturgis.
* HC of The Last Rakosh by F. Paul Wilson.
* TPB of Wet Work by Philip Nutman.
* Signed, limited HC of Offspring by Jack Ketchum.
* Signed Sterling Edition (publisher’s copy with slipcase) of The Tery by F. Paul Wilson.
* Galaxy Press/Writers of the Future Educators Pack – many books!
* Blood-signed (by contributor Jodi Lee) TPB of Echoes of Terror anthology.
* Extended Play: The Elastic Book of Music anthology edited by Gary Couzens.
* Abaddon Books Gift Pack – many books!
* Autographed ARC of Robert McCammon’s Speaks the Nightbird.
* Brian Keene pack: The Rising, City of the Dead, Terminal, Ghoul, Conqueror Worms, and Dead Sea .
* And much, much more………

I keep scanning and scanning and scanning, but I don’t see “win original Alethea Kontis” origami nor “win a date with Maurice Broaddus.” He knows nothing about how to market. I’d even wear the red suit.

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Facing Your Friends

At Apex Day, I ended up in two separate discussions, one with Brian Hatcher and the other with Michael West, about their love of going into bookstores and “facing” the books of writers they know (Facing means turning books out so that folks can see the whole cover, not just a spine and allowing those writers more book shelf real estate). They were making an interesting case for how they support the genre.

Now, granted, I believe in “supporting teh genre” like I do apologetics: if God needs me to defend Him, we’re all screwed. Still, I’m always surprised when writers complain about there not being enough good markets and readers complaining about the cost of magazines, and quality free (and professional paying) magazines, such as Horror Literature Quarterly and Noctem Aeternus go under-subscribed.

Apex Day was a blast. I’ve talked about some folks being family, but it was cool being welcomed into the Apex family (of mixed nuts). Sure I’m going to be their featured writer next month, but I wanted to support Gary Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder and Jason Sizemore and Geoffrey Girard and the rest of the Apex Crew. But there was a certain amount of self-interest involved: it was an excuse for me to hang out with Doug Warrick, Sara Larsen, Alethea Kontis and Debbie Kuhn (even if she makes you chase her down for a hug).

Too often we get bogged down in “how can I market me” spirals of thought. Granted, we have no obligation to advance the genre beyond writing our best stories. However, some of us are a part of communities despite our solo pursuits. It’s a lesson I need to keep learning. There are times when we can get pretty mercenary in our pursuits/networking. However, when you support your friends, you’d be surprised how many friends will bend over backwards to help you when your time comes. Consider this blog me facing some of my friends. But I’m still not going to buy a copy of Chesya’s novel when it eventually comes out. I’ve EARNED my free copy, dang it.

Circle of Friendship: Cliques Happen

People who have been to the Broaddus Household have seen our “family wall”. Someone once described it as the visual story of our lives, a reminder of the people who make up the fabric of our lives. The story starts when you first enter our front door with pictures of our biological family (family by blood).

It winds around the corner along the hallway of the bedroom for our friends family (family we choose).

There is a blank space above the hutch in our dining room. That is where the pictures of my “writing family” is going.

I know that I’m in the minority in thinking this, but while all groups have cliques, there are good cliques and there are bad cliques. Good cliques are a close group of friends, people who naturally gel together. Closer friendships/relationships will just happen among folks; this is how community is formed. Bad cliques are an exclusionary group, folks who run around for all intents and purposes saying “you” can’t be our friend.

You know what? Cliques happen. Some people gel together more quickly and closer levels of frienship develop with some than with others. On the flip side, some people struggle with the idea of community, having been betrayed or abused by it in the past. They don’t trust it, don’t want to trust it, and look for the first signs of history repeating itself. In a lot of ways, this stunts their ability to create circles of friends.

I think some people see a close knit community and long to be a part of something like that themselves not quite realizing that these things form over time – a mix of chemistry and history that leads to intimacy. At the same time, sometimes—whether by choice (not hanging out with their folks) or by action (by breaking trust)—people remove themselves from those circles, which makes it hard to complain about not being in folks’ inner circle. I think I’ll take up this topic in this week’s Friday Night Date Place.

My family wall humbles me. When I walk up and down the hallway I, realize how blessed we are. Some people are lucky to find one good friend, much less the bunch that we have. Still, my feelings are tempered by realizing how much work we put into making those friends. And friendships take work.

Circle of Friends: On Friendship

I went out to lunch the other day with my friend Rob Rolfingsmeyer (because constant phone calls and IM conversations aren’t enough – we’re not going to be happy until we’re hetero life partners) and we were discussing the nature of friendship. It struck us as funny how some relationships seem to click immediately, how some folks can know each other for a long time and yet be little more than acquaintances; but others we can know for a short time and those people feel like they’ve always been a part of our lives.

I firmly believe that we’re too quick to call some people friends. We call folks we’ve met a few times friends; we call people we’ve shared message board space friends; we call business associates friends. I suspect that part of this might stem from an idea that it would be rude to not call someone we know a friend (I once corrected someone who called me a friend by saying that we were actually acquaintances. You would think that I took their family pet and used it for piñata practice. Awkward lesson learned: sometimes it’s easier to just go with the popular definition of a word).

The reality is that we have spheres of friendship which are defined by levels of intimacy. We have those folks in closest orbit to us (the smallest circle of friends) and as we move away in levels of intimacy, those spheres include more and more people. I have folks in my life who I am close to and I have folks in my life who assume they are closer to me than they are. It doesn’t make us any less friends.

Friendships are forged through defining moments and history. Have you noticed that some friendships can miss weeks, months, or years between contact, but pick up right where they left off? The key ingredient is intimacy (or else you are left with an acquaintance you’ve known a long time). And intimacy takes time, a reciprocal process of revealing and sharing with one another, as trust and love are established.

We can all stand to be better friends, to learn how to peer out of our spheres of self-involvement and self-focus. Good friendships rare enough and should be treasured when you find them.

Friday Night Date Place – The Let’s Just be Friends Lie

You know, when I started “Friday Night Date Place,” I figured that after maybe ten blogs or so, I’d run out of stuff to say. Luckily for me, I still hang out with my single friends, and they can be a bitter, bitter bunch. Yay friend fodder!

For today’s topic, I think it prudent to once again mention that I’m not the best person to take advice from on how to deal with break ups. However, there is one idea that I wanted to examine: this notion of ending things on the note of “let’s just be friends.” Let’s face it, whenever I have told someone that “we can still be friends” what I really meant was “I really don’t want to be around you anymore but let’s part on good terms so that my pets don’t end up in a pot of boiling water.” (My other policy was straight “scorched earth”: usually by the time a relationship with me had run its course, neither she, her family, her friends, her work colleagues, nor her pets wanted anything to do with me).

Oddly enough, the world is not populated by people who think like me and some people really mean it when they say they want to remain friends. I think the question we have to examine is would we really WANT to be “just friends”? I think there are a few complications you’d have to keep in mind:

-the emotional confusion: the stuff that attracted you to each other is still there. Time is a dual edged sword. Given time, you will have moments of being drawn to each other, especially given your history. It would be hard not to want to be close again. However, time also dulls your memory and you forget that the reasons you broke up are still there also.

-future relationships: your future significant others might not be cool with the idea of you and your exes hanging out.

-and then there’s “NO!”: you know what? I have enough friends. I don’t need someone to do my hair and have pillow fights with. (Okay, I don’t know where I was going with this, but I’m now stuck with the image of me and Wrath James White in our undies and feathers flying all about us). Anyway, the point is that there are some folks you don’t want to think of as friends nor want them thinking of you as friends because your heart will always want more from the relationship.

If you’re serious about remaining friends, you have to allow space and time before proceeding. Space for the two of you to gain some distance, get on with your lives a bit, fall into new (or sometimes old) routines. Time to heal from the relationship, to let the memories of the relationship fade, and to let the affairs of the heart settle a bit. Getting over the loves of our lives takes time. I wish there were some magic formula, but the best we can usually hope for is that things will “hurts less”. Once they do, you can truly re-visit the idea of being “just friends”.

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.